Len Goodman, former 'Dancing With The Stars' judge, dead from cancer at age 78

 April 25, 2023

Len Goodman, who served as a judge on ABC's "Dancing With The Stars" for 15 years, passed away over the weekend at the age of 78, the Daily Wire reported.

According to the BBC, Goodman succumbed to bone cancer on Saturday while surrounded by family at a hospice in Kent in the United Kingdom.

He joined "DWTS" as a judge in 2005 and served in that role until he retired in 2022. At the same time, Goodman was also the head judge on BBC's "Strictly Come Dancing," the British inspiration for the hit U.S. dance competition show, from 2004 until 2016.

Beloved dancing judge dead

"It is with great sadness to announce that Len Goodman has passed away peacefully, aged 78," Jackie Gill, Goodman’s agent, said in a statement, according to Variety. "A much-loved husband, father, and grandfather who will be sorely missed by family, friends, and all who knew him."

ABC said in a statement that Goodman was an "icon in the world of ballroom dance," and "We were lucky to have him as part of our 'Dancing with the Stars' family for 31 seasons. He was warm and caring, and always delivered genuine guidance."

"We are devastated by the news of his passing and our hearts are with his family during this very difficult time," the network added.

Likewise, BBC Director General Tim Davie praised Goodman in a statement as a "wonderful, warm entertainer who was adored by millions" who "appealed to all ages and felt like a member of everyone’s family." Davie added, "Len was at the very heart of 'Strictly’s' success. He will be hugely missed by the public and his many friends and family."

Almost didn't do either show

Born in 1944 in London, Goodman's first career was as an apprentice welder who took up ballroom dancing in his late teens on a recommendation from his doctor to help recover from a foot injury, per Variety.

He would go on to win competitions as a professional ballroom dancer in his 20s but soon retired from competing to instead become a choreographer and teacher with his own dance studio, the Goodman Academy in Dartford, and a judge of professional ballroom dancing competitions, according to the BBC.

At the time of his retirement in 2022, Goodman told Variety, "I got the call to be a judge three days before the first show. Little Len! Who am I? I’m just a dance teacher from Dartford." He added, "Suddenly, I’m thrust into Hollywood. I got the reputation for being the tough judge, because what I see is what I say."

In a 2006 interview with the U.K. Guardian, Goodman said of the "Strictly" show, "When I was first asked to do the program I wasn't sure, because I thought it might be a bit of a mickey-take. But I'm so glad I did it, because it's dispelled the preconception about what dance classes or schools are like. The program has changed things in dancing schools like you can't imagine. Everyone has had huge influxes of people coming to dance. It's absolutely brilliant."

History of cancer

The New York Post reported that Goodman's lost battle with bone cancer wasn't his first time dealing with a variant of that disease, as he had been treated for prostate cancer in 2009 and also revealed in 2020 that he'd undergone surgery to remove cancerous melanoma from his face.

He is survived by his wife, Sue Barrett, as well as an adult son from a previous marriage, James Goodman.

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